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Open Garden Mini Tour

Our garden will be open tomorrow (Sunday, June 4th) along with two other gardens in our area -  Ruth Clark 3111 NW 149th St, Vancouver, WA 98685  Vicki Green (and local glass artist Kevin Kanyo) 11914 NE 49th Court, Vancouver, WA 98686 Stop by for a stroll and lemonade and cookies! Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Mulch, mulch and more mulch

It can be a back-breaking job but mulching is a job that is very satisfying to me. Making a shabby area look neat and organized always leaves me with a sense of accomplishment.

Michael gave me an overdue haircut this morning and when I left his salon, I took a detour through a neighborhood that has a lot of pine trees. I was in luck - there was a huge pile on the curb on the first street. I ended up getting three loads and used it to mulch the rose beds outside the fence in front of the house.

After lunch, I made a trip to the landfill to get a load of leaf mulch. Collecting the pine straw isn't that bad but the damp and heavy leaf mulch can be bad on the back. I decided to start in the circular garden and mulch the hydrangea beds.

Before -

and after -

A short break and two Ibuprofins later, I was back at it, completing another bed (there are four in the circular garden) and around the fountain.

I normally can get at least two loads of leaf mulch, sometimes even three, but exhaustion kicked in and my back was killing me, so I called it a day.

Michael made a delicious supper, I took a bath in Epsom salts, and Netflix delivered the latest season of Mad Men. Life is good! Now if I can only get up in the morning...

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Our landfill has stopped giving away leaf mulch. Seems there's some state regulation against it unless they test it and have the proper permits. Too bad too, I used a lot of it for a couple years to create new beds. At some point, I'll have to actually purchase compost for $10/truck load.

    It is back breaking work. Just seeing your pictures makes me ache.

  2. Unfortunately our local service agency stopped processing yard waste into compost. Seems the people who built homes next to the composting site, after the facility was already there, did not like the smell. Now all this green and brown fertilizer gets buried with regular household trash.

  3. I hope you are up and at 'em again today Phillip. It is the most satisfying feeling getting the mulch spread. Like icing on a cake. Everything looks so yummy. I envy that pine straw. We used to have our own, but our pine trees are all gone.

  4. I do hope your back is better this morning. That is heavy lifting and bending for sure.

    I wish you could give The Muscian mulch lessons. LOL He loves to mulch, but I can't tell you how many plants I have to go uncover after he is finished. He's not a gardener and has been known to pull weeds that I had to replant because they were seedlings of mine!

    Have a wonderful day!

  5. Phillip, it looks great. Mulching a bed is a finishing touch, like putting a frame on a painting... not exactly, but that comes to mind after we have mulched an areas. Sorry about the back, but a few ibuprofen (plus a couple advil) usually helps me. Likely that will be what happens this evening since the sun is supposed to shine. Have a great weekend.

  6. Wow, and here I thought it was a lot of work to mulch my little gardens LOL. Those two pain pills were well deserved! :)

  7. You are smart to listen to your back and not push to get more mulching done. I have to do the same thing. Kudos to you for getting the pine mulch off the curb! I do that all the time with bags of mulched leaves I boost off the curb! Everything looks so neat with a layer of mulch. I plan to do mine next week.

  8. One of my main projects this year is to build a compost pile - A year ago, when we bought our house, I didn't know if I'd generate enough yard material to have a successful pile, but after a little bit of analyis, I know I will.

  9. Think of it as healthy exercise.

    Could have been more backbraking weeding all summer if you didn't mulch. I know what you mean though, apart from the obvious mulch benefits, it does pull everything together.

  10. Seeing the progress in your garden is one of my favorite things to see when I log's always so beautiful! You have a great eye!

  11. OMG Phillip! You reigned the roses on the front slope! I know you've been wanting to do this, since I was living in the valley. When did you do it? It looks great! Too bad the drive to Charlotte is so long; otherwise, you could help me mulch. I'm shovel pruning almost every rose in the yard (rose rosette). My neighbor finally cut down the massive rosa multiflora that is the suspected carrier. So maybe next year I can plant more. We'll see. I MISS YOU and Michael. N.O., LA looked like fun!

  12. Mulch makes everything look good. I laid some leaves and shredded pine bark on my beds. I need at least three more bags to complete one garden. Will get it today. I love mulch. Your gardens are beautiful.~~Dee


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